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As the dust settled with non-FM obligations last week, my old save beckoned. But, so did FM 17. In a moment of weakness I gave in to that annual, foul temptress. But memories of Sweden are still calling me. So, let’s try this again, shall we… It’s The Hope That Kills You As football fans, we can all relate to that sentiment. The "what could have been" moments. The heartbreak. The days when your overpaid, selfie-obsessed striker couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat. Barbosa at the Maracana, 1950. Messi in the final of the Copa America, 2016. Baggio in the World Cup final, 1994. Ghana at the 2010 World Cup. Bayern Munich in Barcelona, 1999. John Terry in Moscow, 2008. (Ok, if I'm being honest the last two were pretty frickin' beautiful and count among my favorite football memories. But, I digress...) For many, redemption comes in one form or another, some more glamorous than others. Titles won. Individual glories and accolades. The heartbreak simply another chapter in the broader narrative. For others, the heartbreak defines them. Haunts them. Overshadows prior accomplishments, triumphs and accolades. The moniker of the "nearly men" is applied, and supporters grow old thinking, "what if...?" This is the story of those teams. Since its inception in 1955, 22 different teams have won the Champions League (and its predecessor). 17 teams have reached the Final, only to fall short: Atlético Madrid (1974, 2014, 2016) Stade de Reims (1956, 1959) Valencia (2000, 2001) Fiorentina (1957) Eintracht Frankfurt (1960) Partizan (1966) Panathinaikos (1971) Leeds United (1975) Saint-Étienne (1976) Borussia Mönchengladbach (1977) Club Brugge (1978) Malmö FF (1979) Roma (1984) Sampdoria (1992) Bayer Leverkusen (2002) Monaco (2004) Arsenal (2006) Similarly, 8 different nations have brought home the World Cup. Yet, 4 have reached the Final and returned home with empty hands: Netherlands (1974, 1978, 2010) Czechoslovakia (1934, 1962) Hungary (1938, 1954) Sweden (1958) This save will chronicle my (second) full-blown attempt to bring glory to as many of these sides as possible. As with before, there are no hard-and-fast rules beyond the concept of the save. While I enjoy developing youth, I will not take a youth academy only approach at these clubs. Rather, I will work within club-specific plans without any self-imposed transfer restrictions (e.g., a 2-4 year-plan makes sense with the like of Arsenal, versus a 6-8 year plan with Malmö ). I will leave on high -- thus, once I've won the Champions League, I must move on. Surely I won't be fired...will I? After my first club, I will only accept a position with one of the sides listed above, or a club that manages to join this elite (!?) group of "nearly men." Likewise, if a club manages to win the CL under another manager, they are removed from the challenge. On the international scene, the same basic rules will apply -- I will only accept an international management position with an eligible nation. If I win the World Cup, I must move on. Nations can be added to and removed from the eligible list, based on results at the World Cup. With respect to Czechoslovakia, I consider both the Czech Republic and Slovakia eligible. While some of these sides are "easier" than others, I will begin with one of the "smaller" clubs and proceed from there, wherever the winds take me. I am also holidaying 2 years into the future, to allow for a unique playing environment. I've loaded the top leagues in Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Spain and Sweden, with a large database/pool of potential players. Up Next: The stage is set. June 2018.